The 2018 National Carnival is set to take place in the capital Port-au-Prince from Sunday, February 11, through Tuesday, February 13. Carnival organizers announced that parade stands are being built in the Champ de Mars area and near the La Mayòt bridge.
An influx of tourists is expected. As such, increased congestion at travel hubs, increased demand for hotels (and higher prices), and increased car traffic in the city (closed roads, affluence of revelers) is to be anticipated, along with business, store, and government office closures.
Furthermore, rates of petty (and more violent) crime have risen in recent weeks and will remain high during the carnival period. Several attacks targeting foreigners have been reported in the past two weeks; as of February 8, at least three incidents occurred as victims were leaving Port-au-Prince International Airport (PAP). The National Police of Haiti (PNH) will deploy an additional 7000 officers across the country to provide security during the celebrations.
Crime rates and social unrest has risen in recent months, particularly since the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) was replaced by the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) in October 2017. MINUJUSTH has fewer resources than MINUSTAH and have been unable to accurately report on criminal incidents in the capital and surrounding areas. Social tension also remains high as humanitarian organizations, such as Médecins Sans Frontières, draw down operations.
The festive period will extend over several weeks culminating in the Rara celebration, which takes place over Lent (February 14 to March 29). Port-au-Prince's annual February carnival celebrations have been some of the largest Mardi Gras festivities in the Caribbean and North America. Rara is a unique Haitian celebration that is separate from the main pre-Lent carnival celebrations. The festivities and music have roots in peasant Easter celebration customs, and Rara is often referred to as "voodoo taken on the road."
Those present in Haiti during the carnival period are advised to exercise an increased level of vigilance regarding crime and to allow for additional time to reach destinations
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